steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Dilnot? Why not?

An odd discussion of the Dilnot proposals on the Today programme this morning (the clip is 1:35 in).

They analyse the problem well enough. There's certainly a problem with the cost of social care, at least from the point of view of the property-owning classes. The children of people who have the decency to pop off relatively quickly after a life of independence will find their inheritances more or less intact. Those whose parents need long term care may find very little left in the pot by the end. (Those whose parents didn't have much to begin with won't get anything either, but they will at least avoid disappointment.)

Dilnot's proposal is to put a cap of £35,000 on the money paid by each person towards their own care before the state steps in to pick up the tab, which would apparently cost the treasury about £2 billion per year. At a time of widespread public sector spending cuts, is it fair to ask those in most need to give up vital services in order to protect the legacies of well-off baby boomers? Strangely (strange at least from the government that made cutting income tax for millionaires a big priority at the last budget), the answer seems to be no.

Now, this is the really odd bit. According to the BBC pundit, in looking for ways to make this move palatable, they tried to think of ways of raising the money from the very class of people who would benefit from the Dilnot plans, and accordingly they considered means-testing winter fuel payments, the state pension, and subsidized TV licences. In other words, they looked at taking money from the well-off elderly.

But hang on! The main beneficiaries of Dilnot wouldn't be the elderly! They'd be their middle-aged, middle-class baby-boomer children, who would (as a result of the Dilnot cap) be able to rely on receiving at least the biggest part of their inheritance. So why isn't the government looking at ways to take the money from them, if they want this whole exercise to be revenue-neutral? (Better still, of course, to tax the extremely rich fairly. but they aren't going to do that.)

One idea might be to scrap higher rate tax relief on pension contributions. Admittedly, I myself would lose by that measure. But then, I'm also one of the potential beneficiaries of Dilnot.
Tags: current affairs
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